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Roman Polanski

Chinatown – Roman Polanski (1974)

This film is older than myself. Polanski made a descent crime thriller in which a private investigator (Jack Nicholson) is hired for an apparently simple job, but he quickly walks into a swamp of corruption and intrigue.

The story unfolds nicely with new elements, suspects and information as we go along. The film is moody. Of course it has the pace of a 1980’ies film which immediately shows in the tranquilizing opening credits.

Rosemary’s Baby * Roman Polanski (1968)

I have seen this classic a few times before and I wanted to see it again because I was under the impression that Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, is in this film in the part of the devil. I had better searched the web before concluding that I had not found LaVey, because it appears to have been but rumours that he was in this film. Still, I think to remember a film in which the man does appear, looking pretty much like himself. Anyone?

“Rosemary’s Baby” is not a waste of time now that LaVey does not seem to be in it though. On the other hand, it is not the masterpiece that some people see in it either.

We follow a young couple who move into an appartment with a history of violence. Soon after Rosemary and Guy move in, things go both bad and well, but the nosy neighbours become even more so when Rosemary gets pregnant. First she follows all advice of her elderly neighbours, but after a while Rosemary discovers that these people are witches and that they, and the rest of their coven, are after Rosemary’s baby.

The story is not really surprising and since the film is pretty old, undoubtely not unheard of either. The atmosphere is alright, Mia Farrow nice to look at and the witches’ scenes are amusing. 136 Minutes of classic suspense. Rewatch when you start to forget about the film.

La Locataire * Roman Polanski (1976)

Better known under the international title “The Tenant” this is one of those thriller classics. Presented as a psychological suspense thriller it takes quite a while before the film gets interesting. A young man Trelkovsky (played by Polanski himself) moves into an appartment building in Paris. Trelkovsky is a strange man and Polanski is not clear about the reason why Trelkovsky wants to live in that particular appartment, but the building that Trelkovsky moves into is even weirder than himself. Soon the young man goes from appearing as having weird interests to being a victim in a strange plot. The story is pretty strange and there is some grim humour in it. “La Locataire” is an interesting film to see some time, but I do not find it a masterpiece.

Ninth Gate * Roman Polanski * 1999

I saw this Polanski horror with Johnny Depp when it played in the cinemas. I remember not liking it too much, but I still watched it again was it was on TV recently.

Ninth Gate is one of these early ‘horror’ films with an occult theme. This time the story is that Depp is a ‘book-detective’, a collector of old books to sell them with profit. Boris Balkan is a fervent collector of works about the devil and he has one of the three remaining copies of “The Nine Gates To The Kingdom Of Shadows”, a truly magical book from which big powers can be drawn. Balkan hires Dean Corso (Depp) to compare his copy with the other remaining two. Corso discovers that the copies are not identical, the nine engravings are not the same. Six are signed by the author, three by Lucifer. The story goes that the author poured directly from the devilish source. Corso figures that the nine engravings of Lucifer will unravel the secrets of the book, but of course his quest isn’t without problems. Corso’s employer at least tries to gain ultimate power with a childish ritual, but when Corso himself has the real and original nine engravings, he only has to walk through the ninth gate. A mediocre film with a terrible end.